Advocacy & Lobbying

7. Messaging Matters

You will notice throughout this guide that public advocacy campaigns are entirely about communication:

  • Communicating to decision makers to explain why the change is necessary.
  • Communicating to your organization’s supporters to gain and rally their support and keep them updated and engaged.
  • Communicating to the media to reach a wider audience.
How do you craft a compelling message? Start with this checklist:
  1. Make sure your message is well researched and data-driven but also relatable on an emotional level.
  2. Distill down the change you would like to see into one paragraph, then into one sentence.
  3. Say that sentence out loud. Is it quick? Thorough? Comprehensible?
  4. Say the sentence to a friend or acquaintance who doesn’t know much about what you do. Ask them what change they think you are trying to make.
  5. Take note of their questions, use the feedback to refine the sentence.
  6. Go back to your paragraph and refine it with what you learned from testing your sentence.
  7. Write out your paragraph and share it with a couple of reviewers. Solicit their feedback.
  8. Practice your short pitch with a few people, if they start looking antsy or their eyes glaze over, learn from that and find a way to make your pitch shorter and more engaging.
  9. Once you are happy with your statements, use that messaging to create some basic documents like a press release outline and a fact sheet with a few more details, and a white paper with even more details.

Stick closely to your messaging. Go over it with your champions and volunteers, make sure that it is consistent and only change it as necessary as your campaign evolves. Many campaigns are derailed by adding too many topics or getting fuzzy about why the campaign is necessary. Simplicity and tenacity are key in successful campaigns. Branding your campaign is also incredibly helpful for achieving traction and getting to the point of what you are asking for quickly.